Launching a startup is challenging. It takes insight, planning, and persistence to create a company and ensure its success. One of the most critical stages is hiring the right people. Since business always depends on its workers, this stage may well define its fate. There are many different ways to approach this problem; it is a mere suggestion, a starting point for your startup journey.
Make a Plan
Planning is key in everything. Choose a particular day, ideally in the morning, sit with a cup of coffee and a notebook in which the planning will happen. At this point, there should be a plan for your startup with processes and workflow outlined. Now list the everyday tasks and group them by type. See how many of them need hiring and which ones can be done by anyone, automated or bootstrapped, if your company is short on funding.
For each task, write out frequency and time. Can a team member feasibly manage these in a 40-hour workweek? And if they have to attend various meetings? Can you hire one person for all the video production, or it would be too much for them to handle?
At this stage, decide if a contract worker is necessary or a freelancer will do the job just as well. Mark the positions that allow remote work. Many workers prefer this, especially in creative and computer-related jobs.
Find Potential Employees
It is essential but not the last step in the process. Sometimes it is a good idea to ask your colleagues (if you still have a day job) or friends and family for any contacts. The rule of six handshakes is often underestimated, and there are often remarkable people two or three handshakes away. It may be a good idea to go through local groups on Facebook to look for potential employees. It works well for in-person workers.
If the old-school ways don’t seem to work for you, try looking for people on hiring platforms. Fill the form, open vacancies, and wait for applications to come in. Some people look for startup jobs, so make sure it is mentioned. If you have an opportunity, consult someone from the industry. Ask them if your offers are reasonable, as industries often have nuisances. Asking for four years of experience with technology that existed for two years will spoil the impression.
On hiring platforms, you compete with other employers in hiring the right people. Ensure your offer description is accurate and clean, with no mistakes and typos. It is best to answer the responses within the first 24 hours. Do not ghost applicants and reject those who do not fit your requirements. Common sense and politeness are the best guides at this stage.
If you ask a candidate to complete a test case, explicitly state that its results will not be used in real work. Unfortunately, many disingenuous employers take advantage of this, and it’s best to verbalise your intent.
Nowadays, it is a common practice to interview many candidates for every position on the list. It leads to large amounts of information that you need to compare to make the right decision. Do not rely on your memory! Instead, make a spreadsheet with applicants for each position, offered salaries, and any notes you find relevant. It is the most powerful tool to make the right decision.
Remember the Maths
How should an employer approach an interview? Mathematics can answer that. Let’s create a mathematical problem: 100 candidates fit the position randomly, between 0 and 100%. You can’t interview one twice; only accept their offer or decline it right after the interview. You only know how good this candidate is and how good were the ones you rejected. How could you maximise your chances of hiring the perfect candidate? It turns out it is optimal to interview 1/4 to 1/3 of the participants and then hire the first candidate that’s better than the previous ones.
It is a simple but effective trick that works well, even on small samples. For example, if you have ten candidates, interview the first three and hire one better than them. It is a good guideline that can structure the hiring process.
The hiring process is tedious and may take a while, especially if you need a lot of staff in your startup. Keeping track of all applicants and showing up to interviews is stressful, and outsourcing this work is often sensible. Consider hiring an HR specialist for your startup to save some resources and time.